Bath Houses

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Description

From the 5th century BC onwards, balaneia (bath houses) were built in Athens by the state as well as by individuals. Private houses of affluent individuals were often equipped with baths. Several of the public bath houses were located outside the walls near the city gates.

Bath houses were usually round buildings (also called tholoi) with series of hip baths arranged radially and heated by braziers. Because of this circular arrangement, baths were often wider at one end than at the other. Most baths were made of terracotta but some were also of marble or other stone. There were even baths made of water-proofed masonry.

No bath house has yet been found during the excavations within the walls of Athens. However, classical literature mentions some public baths outside the city walls (probably existing in 421 BC): the baths of Diochares outside the Diochares Gate, the baths of Isthmonikos outside the Itonian Gate on the south, and two unnamed baths outside the Peiraic Gate and the Thriasian Gate (Dipylon Gate). The remains of the latter have been found along the west side of the road to the Akademeia. It had an inner diameter of 8.20 m. The baths near the Peiraic Gate were smaller with an inner diameter of 5.80 m.

During winter, the poors often took refuge in the public bath houses.

References

Connolly, Peter and Hazel Dodge; The Ancient City - Life in Classical Athens & Rome, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

Flacelière, Robert, La vie quotidienne en Grèce au siècle de Périclès, Hachette, 1959

Travlos, John, Pictorial dictionary of Ancient Athens, Books that matter, New York, 1971, p. 180

To Do

  1. Include an illustration of a bath house
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